The Parks Alliance (TPA) is the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, maintain, invest in and use the public
green spaces that we are proud to have at the heart of British life.
October and November have been busy months for The Parks Alliance. Here are this newsletter’s updates and highlights:
The Parks Action Group (PAG) was due to meet Minister in November but the general election put paid to that! A meeting with whoever the Minister is in the new government will be held in the new year.
In this issue:-
We report back from our highly successful Empowering Parks for the 21st Century Conference held in late September and you can access all the presentations made at the event.
Dr Anna Barker of Leeds University shares her thoughts on the Future of Parks with a ‘think piece’ on the blog.
Also via the blog Tom Shakhli of Spacehive shares his thoughts on Crowdfunding and Parks and the hundreds of projects across the country that get financed using the platform.
We launch our Why Parks Matter Evidence Base giving you access to a wide range of parks related research that supports the case for parks and helps you #makeparkscount
We also launch our Resource Library that gives you access to guides and reports on providing; paying for; and managing parks in the UK and further afield. There’s also a section on natural capital. Let us know what you think.
Join the conversation
Find us on Twitter for the latest news, and join us on Instagram where we’ll soon be sharing more.
We still need your help to #makeparkscount
Now a general election has been called a new government will emerge and we will need to redouble our efforts to #makeparkscount and ensure parks receive the attention and investment they rightly deserve. The main funding supporting The Parks Alliance ends early next year even so we’d like to continue and hopefully expand our campaign. But we won’t be able to do that without your help. If you want to help ensure we can continue our campaign year into next please donate whatever you can using the button below (you have to scroll down the page a bit when you get there!).
In a longer blog than usual Dr Anna Barker shares her thoughts on the future of public parks, reflecting on the contemporary challenges facing the parks sector and the findings of historically-informed research that she and her colleagues at the University of Leeds have undertaken.
Anna reflects on the findings of her research and how this underlines the need for an informed public debate that connects the rich heritage of parks with immanent questions about their future sustainability. Take a look!
Spacehive is a funding platform for ideas that bring local places to life: everything from sprucing up the park, or improving a playground, to starting a street market. To date over 182 parks and gardens projects have been successfully funded through Spacehive, worth a total value of £3.3m. Some projects are about taking an unused building and giving it a new lease of life, such as the recent Village Hall for Clapton Common – formerly a disused toilet! Others are about accessibility, such as in Doncaster where 100 people collectively purchased play equipment which could be used and enjoyed by people with a disability that requires a wheelchair. Spacehive’s Tom Shakhli tells us more here.
Meanwhile over the boarder MyParkScotland is Scotland’s only crowdfunding platform specifically for parks and green spaces. Since developed MyParkScotland as part of the first Rethinking Parks programme, receiving over 1500 individual donations to support more than 60 parks and green space projects. MyParkScotland isn’t just a crowdfunding platform, it also helps people discover, enjoy and support their parks – it currently lists over 400 parks in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife and Glasgow, and has featured over 1500 park events.
On 26th September, the Landscape Institute (LI), in association with the Parks Action Group, West Midlands Parks Forum and The Parks Alliance, held a free, all-day CPD event in Birmingham: Empowering parks for the 21st Century. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) funded the event to help address skills needs for modern-day park and landscape managers, and to make and debate the business case for natural spaces of all scales – from urban parks and green spaces to national parks and designated landscapes.
150 delegates attended from local authorities across the UK, as well as a national and international audience for the live broadcast. Delegate feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The main consensus from the day: while ‘21st Century’ parks are already demonstrating their value, the message needs to travel further. The sector needs high-level political and managerial leadership in communities to establish a clear vision for their parks, broker the partnerships necessary to secure investment, and build capacity to deliver.
The evidence base provides key research documents that support the economic, environmental and social arguments in support of investing in parks.
There have been many surveys and report on parks in the UK over the years analysing their benefits and their current state. Here you will find a collection of the most comprehensive that provide a solid evidence base that parks matter.
Parks and Local Economic Development
Parks are good for the local economy. They encourage inward investment into cities and increase the footfall in town centres. They raise the value of property in close proximity. They are also a source of jobs and services. Here is some of the evidence that will help you understand the economic value of your parks and green spaces.
Parks and the Environment
Parks are good for the local environment and help tackle climate change. They can provide natural services that reduce temperatures, absorb pollution, capture carbon and manage flood risk. Here is some of the evidence supporting the contribution of parks to tackling climate change and protecting the environment.
Parks and Health
Parks boost the health of people who use them and live around them. They provide opportunities for physical recreation and are proven to help people tackle mental illness. By boosting the health and well-being of local communities parks help reduce the costs of public health. Here is some of the evidence that will help you understand the contribution of parks and green spaces to improving health and well being.
Parks and Communities
Parks are most peoples favourite public places. They provide places where people come together and meet their neighbours strengthening communities. Here is some of the evidence that will help you understand how parks do this and how you can help.
The resource library is aimed at all those who have an interest in parks and wish to understand the latest thinking on how they are paid for and run. It includes resources and guides on the following:-
Here you’ll find a collection of guides and resources on the management of parks.
Paying for Parks
Establishing additional revenue streams alongside revenue from local tax payers is becoming essential to ensure the long term sustainability of parks. Here are some reports and research from the UK and abroad into the many different opportunities.
Natural Capital is becoming increasingly important as a method to place a value on the natural benefits that parks provide such as health, recreation, carbon capture, air quality and cooling. Here are some guides and reports on the subject and some of the accounts that have been prepared so far by Councils and others.
How parks are provided is changing. Places are trying different models to deliver their parks that seek to establish financial sustainability and address the key social and environmental goals of their communities. Here you’ll find some examples.
Parks also create economic and social value. These too can be measured and here you will find guides on how to approach these types of valuation including organisations who have done so.
TPA Parks Blog
The Parks Alliance web site has started a monthly blog to explore current parks policy issues. You can find it here https://www.theparksalliance.org/blog/. We kicked off the blog with a piece on community engagement and will be covering health and funding in the coming months. If you want to contribute please contact at firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea.